With summer around the corner it is likely that most people will try to increase their exercise levels. Whether it is to improve your physique/health or football preseason starting soon, we want to highlight the importance of training loads.
It is very common for us to see people with tendon or muscle injuries following a spike in their exercise. The easiest way to monitor your training loads is the Acute:Chronic workload ratio. This is a ratio used widely across elite sport but is transferrable across the entire population.
To calculate your Acute:Chronic workload ratio you need to measure a consistent variable. For running the easiest measurement is distance, other examples may be golf balls hit at the driving range or reps performed at the gym. If we are measuring distance we need to calculate the total distance run in the each of the first 4 weeks as shown below:
Week 2 – 3.5km (1km run x 2 + 1.5 km run x 1)
Week 3 – 3.5km (1km run x 2 + 1.5 km run x 1)
Week 4 – 4km (1km run x 1 + 1.5 km run x 2)
Following this we need to average the weekly distance over the previous 4 weeks.
3+3.5+3.5+4 = 14
14/4 = 3.5km
That gives us our chronic workload in distance for the previous 4 weeks.
In our 5th week the research suggests that the “happy zone” is between 0.8 and 1.3 times the chronic workload
So in this example your weekly distance for the 5th week should total no less than 2.8km and no more than 4.55km
Following the 5th week of running your chronic workload needs to be recalculated from weeks 2-5.
If you run 4km in week 5 the new chronic workload average is
3.5+3.5+4+4 = 15
15/4 = 3.75km
The 6th week must remain in the “happy zone” 3km-4.875km.
Consistent gradual increases in your loading will allow you to increase your fitness in a safe and sustainable manner!